Neal Sweeney trial: Murder solicitor says he met suspect on fatal morning
BY BILL BRAUN World Staff Writer
Friday, December 07, 2012
12/07/12 at 5:24 AM
The man who admits to paying to have Tulsa businessman Neal Sweeney killed testified Thursday that on the morning of the murder, a man whom he did not know told him to ''watch the news."
Mohammed Aziz testified that the man, Alonzo "Jack" Johnson - then a stranger to him - came to a convenience store that Aziz operated on the morning of Sept. 4, 2008, tapped on the window and gave Aziz the message about the news.
Aziz indicated that he did not realize the man was Johnson until he saw Johnson in court.
By Aziz's time estimate, this event occurred prior to the 9:27 a.m. shooting of Sweeney.
Sweeney, 63, was shot in the head Sept. 4, 2008, at his business, Retail Fuels Marketing, 3158 S. 108th East Ave. He died the next day.
Aziz, who operated two convenience stores in Tulsa and one in Collinsville, testified Thursday as a prosecution witness at the trial of Johnson, 41.
Johnson is on trial alone on counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Testimony resumes Friday in District Judge Tom Gillert's court.
Aziz, 60, testified that he was "mad" at Sweeney over business dealings. He indicated that he asked a friend and store customer, Allen Shields, if he knew somebody who would kill Sweeney.
Shields said, ''Let me see what I can do for you," according to Aziz.
Testimony indicated that Fred Shields, Allen's brother, set the price at $10,000.
Aziz said he agreed to the $10,000 figure but actually made installment payments - which he gave to Allen Shields - that totaled $11,100.
Retail Fuels Marketing had sued Aziz for not making payments and obtained a $238,638 default judgment against Aziz in May 2008.
Defense attorney Mark Lyons, representing Johnson, maintained in his cross-examination of Aziz that the killing was a "matter of honor" for Aziz.
Aziz - in his own word at a prior court proceeding - thought he got "screwed" in the business dealings, Lyons indicated.
Aziz has pleaded guilty to soliciting murder, and his plea agreement calls for a 25- to 35-year prison term in exchange for truthful testimony. He has not been sentenced, and murder and conspiracy counts were dismissed against him.
Allen Shields pleaded guilty to a conspiracy count and testified for the prosecution at a 2010 preliminary after being offered a plea deal calling for a 10-year probation and no prison time. He died in 2011 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Terrico Bethel, accused of being the triggerman, was convicted previously of murder and conspiracy counts. Johnson is accused in a conspiracy count of stealing a van that Bethel used as a getaway vehicle.
Original Print Headline: Murder solicitor says he met suspect on fatal morning
Bill Braun 918-581-8455
Mohammed Aziz: He testified that on the morning Neal Sweeney was shot, a man who he did not know told him to "watch the news." Aziz, who has pleaded guilty to soliciting the murder, testified that the man was Alonzo "Jack" Johnson